Protein Lessons + WIAW

Learning lessons is a theme in my life lately.


Some I’d rather not learn, but that’s another story.

Despite having done this cleanse 3 times before, I’m learning a whole new lesson with this one.  It’s about protein.  I had NO idea how much energy and strength I was getting from all the protein I took in!  The first 10 days of the cleanse are meat-free.  It also eliminates common allergens, so I can’t even replace that protein with soy, dairy or eggs.

I have a delicious, clean pea protein powder from Growing Naturals that accounts for most of my intake.  I also have some from quinoa, lentils, and seeds… but that’s really not much.  With the “rules” of the cleanse, I end up eating about half my normal amount of protein and twice the carbs.  Carbs give energy, right?  Notsomuch.  I’m tired.  I’m sleeping more and having to lift lighter.  Apparently carbs give energy when you have enough protein.

back/tri workout

I did get through my back and tri workout.  Fueled by dates and tahini, I took a moment to twerk in the empty squat rack for Arman and Lucie.  Refueled with a protein smoothie made with strawberries, raspberries, basil, coconut, and spinach.


Lesson two is hunger.  I’m a bottomless veggie pit.  I eat stacks of vegetables (and fruit), but they don’t have the same staying power that protein does.  Kudos to the vegan body builders out there… I have no idea how they do it!

Curious about protein?  Click here for a piece I wrote for Growing Naturals on the importance of protein before and after a workout.  And then check out these 30 High Protein Breakfasts from many of my FitFluential friends!


This WIAW is the end of my first week on the 21 day cleanse.  I’m definitely in a good groove, but anxious to add some lean protein in on Friday!


Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations!



My morning cocktail continues to be modified.  The Aminos I use aren’t 100% clean, so I modified by using ACV and juice from half a lemon.  I’m getting used to it, but miss my amino boost!

I’ve really been loving chia pudding for breakfast.  It’s especially great since you mke it the night before – one less thing to do in the morning!  I’ve been adding my favorite pea protein to keep me full longer, and even started mixing in sweet potato for creaminess and carbs.  It also helps that purple sweet potatoes make for a pretty breakfast!

Purple Sweet Chia Pudding

Purple Sweet Chia Pudding

  •  1/4 C mashed purple sweet potato
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 C blackberries
  • Toppings: more blackberries, shredded unsweetened coconut


In a small bowl, mash sweet potato to a chunky puree.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate over night (or at least 2-3 hours).

In the morning, uncover and stir.  Add additional liquid or sweetener as needed.


Mid-Morning Snack:

Lentil salad with mango, celery, shittake mushrooms, and orange bell pepper.  I’ve loving fruit in unexpected places lately.  #twss

Lentil Salad

Followed that up with my pre-workout of dates and tahini, and then with a protein shake post-workout (see intro).



Spaghetti squash tossed with olive oil, oyster mushrooms, yellow bell peppers, parsley, and pepitas (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds, but pepitas is more fun to say).

Spaghetti squash salad


Afternoon Snack:

Roasted veggies.  My co-workers have grown used to the smell.  Brussels, baby bellas, cauliflower, and eggplant with avocado oil, thyme, cumin, garlic, and cayenne.  Side of carrot fries roasted in coconut oil and cinnamon.




I needed a drink when I got home from work… so I poured myself a glass of kombucha.  I home-brew, but repurpose empty GT’s bottles to house my concoctions.  This flavor is grapefruit and ginger.



I enjoyed that while prepping a #strangebutgood dinner.  I started with a bed of parsnip rice.  Then I placed a roasted portobello in the center.  Eggplant chips on the side.  Then the real fun began – I roasted brussles, fennel, cherry tomatoes, jalapeño, and mango in rosemary olive oil and herbs to top all that.  The whole thing was flanked with sliced avocado.

Died of happiness.  Thank you to Davida for the #strangebutgood inspiration

Roasted veggies and mango

Check out the money shot in Instagram. 😉



Never enough kabocha.  Cubed and roasted with coconut oil and cinnamon.  Topped with Onnit Choco Maca Hemp Protein sauce (mixed with coconut milk), coconut fluff (coconut flour, cinnamon, ginger, and water), pepitas, and cacao nibs.

Kabocha heavenAnd then I was full. 


Week 1 done.  2 to go.

Do you notice when you don’t have enough protein?

What lesson have you learned lately?


  1. says

    You have to eat some protein to make the carbs work like they are supposed to. Went to a great educational thingie last week and got to hear some top researchers from around the country talk about the importance of protein and performance, good stuff

    • Laura says

      Yes ma’am! It’s funny the things I know logically… but I’m still surprised when I prove it to myself. LOL!

    • Cel says

      Or you can look at the other side of it, read 801010 by dr douglas graghm and learn that glucose from fruit feeds your brain/energy. Increase the fruit carbs! U only need 10% from fat and 10% from protein to thrive. Lots of 80101 athletes out there! :) love the raw recipes you’re creating on the cleanse! X

  2. says

    I CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT eat a meal without animal protein. My stomach will KICK MY ASS. Wait, I just got a visual of my stomach kicking my ass, that was weird.

    Anyways, if I eat veggies all by themselves, I cannot digest them very well, alas, they get stuck in my small intestine and EXCRUCIATING PAIN ENSUES!! It’s quite… FUN??? Oh yes, if you think getting stabbed by a samurai sword is the definition of a GOOD TIME 😉

  3. says

    I LOOOOOVE your twerk thank you for honoring me!!
    I admire you for being so moderate with the protein powder – my scoops are always heaped to the end (more like 1,5 scoops) LOL.
    I love your combos – dates and tahini, omg!! And celery&mango. Yummers.

  4. says

    Dude! We are totally on the same page! I agree with you on the protein…I don’t need it in ALL my meals/snacks, but it makes a big difference for main meals. I’m totally on the chia pudding kick too…you’ve created a monster! But that’s actually a good thing, because I was starting to wonder what the hell I was gonna do with all the chia seeds I have! Ha! Thanks for the tip to add the protein powder…otherwise I think I’d be hungry again in like an hour! Ha! Also, I bought some parsnips with the intention of ricing them, but ended up throwing them in a pan with turnips, carrots, onions, broccoli, and FENNEL and roasting them in coconut oil (which I swear them all taste THAT much sweeter)! Lesson I’ve learned lately: Do NOT eat half a pan of roasted veggies in one sitting…even if that coconut oil DOES make them taste like candy…ugh, I’ve been walking around all night with a pot belly! :-/

  5. says

    I must be wired differently… I could eat steak after steak after chicken and still be starving….But carbs tend to be the filling factor for me!

    I hope protein reappears for you soon- you could then perfect the twerk!

  6. says

    You sure make a cleanse look tasty! I think I need a balance of all the macronutrients to feel full. Definitely agree with the protein, but also if I don’t have enough of all three, I’m starving every second.

  7. says

    It is amazing isnt it, protein makes such a big difference! I have been trying to consume more of it, and I really notice that I stay fuller for longer, and I notice physical changes too. You are a rockstar for doing this cleanse, I admire you! Veggies just do not keep anyone full long enough 😛

    • Laura says

      That’s awesome! I love hearing positive outcomes when people adjust their diets. It’s such a fun science. :)

  8. says

    I’ve been eating a lot of eggplant recently. We grill it and there are usually plenty of leftovers for a couple of days’ lunches. YUM. And I can always tell when I’m not getting in enough protein, and I struggle with that as it is.

    • Laura says

      She is a smart lady! I think people outside the lifting world think more about carbs for fuel (I used to!), but the protein can really make a difference in recovery!

  9. says

    Definitely all about balance with carbs and protein, too little or too much can affect you. I’m loving the sweet potato in the chia pudding << still have to make me some of that. Good luck with the start of week 2!!

  10. says

    It so funny you write about this because I have been tracking my macros and have been coming up OVER on protein. Everyday even when I try to keep it down I always go over somehow. I am working on balancing out more and after this week I am letting go of greek yoghurt because I started eating it this year to see how I reacted and now I have acne and an upset stomach all of the time. I am going to try making my own coconut kefir but we will see how that goes..anyways I am interested to see how you feel after this cleanse! Lots of Love C

    • Laura says

      I didn’t think you could go over. LOL! Seriously, everyone is different. You just have to figure out what your body needs. I realized I was getting too much once because it caused me to go to the bathroom… if you know what I mean… 😉

  11. says

    I don’t know how you’re doing this! My pre-workout snack is pretty low in protein (mainly because I’m lazy and can’t be bothered prepping anything, so I typically have a banana and some nuts) but I would die if I didn’t have protein in every other meal.

    • Laura says

      There’s a link above. It’s called the Standard Process Cleanse. I do my own version so I don’t have to buy their supplements. :)

  12. says

    Yes! The more I lift, the more protein I need! My body just feels different. The more I run, the more carbs I need. It’s strange how your body just knows. You’re doing a great job with this! I love how you think outside the box!

    Now, I want that bowl of roasted veggie deliciousness with a runny egg on top! YUM!

  13. says

    I’m with you about protein and hunger levels- even if it’s in the form of beans or lentils, I need to incorporate some source in my meals- otherwise those meals aren’t going to last long in me at al! Those carrot fries sound fantastic- lately I’ve been loving grated carrot topped with cinnamon, shredded coconut & a splash of alond milk…strange but definitely good?

    Hope you’re well Laura :)!

  14. says

    definitely agree! protein is synthesized in so many ways. But after a workout it’s crucial for muscle repair, especially the ones with complete proteins/aminos

  15. says

    Your arms are the best EVER! Serious arm envy going on over here! 😀 Completely agree with you about the protein, I really miss it when its gone… although I have to say, I’m probably in with the vast majority of the western world, in that I consume wayyy more than I actually need to! Whoops! 😉

  16. says

    I think it’s different based on how your body gains energy. I’m a carbs person. I did high protein for a while and felt like you feel right now. I gotta have complex carbs in the AM or I’m dead by 2 (today, for instance, I did a protein shake for Bfast, and heavy protein lunch, and no carbs — just how the day shook out — gonna pass out). These are interesting observations though. Definitely interesting to see how your normal routine is shaken up when you take out something simple.

  17. says

    Your diet now is like my daily diet everyday hah. Clearly I’m not the queen of protein. I literally have to shove it in myself to get myself to eat it. I don’t think I really notice if I increase it or decrease if (if anything I think I get the opposite effect that you do when I eat high protein). Funny how we are all so different in our needs!
    Anddd, I have to add – holy muscles! You look fantastic my friend

  18. says

    good luck with the cleanse! for us we notice we need some protein at very meal but overall we eat a low to moderate amount. And we must try that combo of dates and tahini, we have done it with coconut oil but tahini sounds great

  19. says

    Yes yes yes! As you know, I’ve been struggling with protein as I avoid peas, rice, whey/ casein, and vanilla (all very common in protein powders, which I often relied upon). I’ve been using Great Lakes gelatin (which kind of skeeves me out to be honest, but doesn’t taste like anything and is a good addition when you need some protein).

  20. says

    I think I feel my best when everything is in balance and not really on a meal by meal basis but over the course of time. If I stay away from carbs for a few days, I definitely feel more lethargic, and if I don’t get enough protein, I definitely feel like a hungry beast.

  21. says

    I know the feeling! I was amazed at how much protein changed the way I work out. The problem with me is that I don’t really enjoy meat?? lol. Strange right? I notice the changes for sure, but I am so much happier with all vegetable meals. I tend to stick with fish as much as I can when I am eating protein.

    Your meals look yummy!

    • Laura says

      I get that – my little sister doesn’t like to eat meat because of the texture. I eat hers at holidays. 😉

  22. says

    It’s so weird how everyone’s body is different. When I did 6 weeks of (almost) no-cheating Paleo, I didn’t get that crazy energy burst so many claim to know about. My body just had a different reaction!

    I love the whole “My co-workers have gotten used to the smell.” Lately I’ve been getting a lot of “Oh, that actually smells good.” Yeah … just because it’s not your normal grub should not mean it’s disgusting!

    Oh, co-workers …

  23. Kasey says

    When you do cleanses like this or just eating clean to prepare for a competition.. how do you do it? How do you stay strong? I feel like i’ve lost all my will power! haha

    • Laura says

      It sounds funny, but I just don’t make it an option to break the rules. Would a bite of cheese hurt? Probably not. But it’s easier for me to go all the way… and keep my eye on the finish line!

  24. says

    So I’m digging your cleanse eats, so many fruits and veggies, especially in unexpected places and along with pepitas….so much funnier to say.
    Last night, I threw all my leftovers (rice, eggs, diced bell pepper, onions) into a pan and called it Veggie Fried Rice. It was pretty impressive for my first go around. Maybe we both thrive under pressure.

    I hope you life lessons get a little easier. I get it; those can be rough.

    • Laura says

      I should have come to your house for dinner! Last night’s dinner started with eating cold chicken standing in the fridge door after leg day.

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